Feminism is a word that a lot of men don’t really take the time to understand. They think it’s about putting women first or that it’s some kind of soapbox women stand on in order to flex what they feel is supremacy. Or, worse, they’re offended because they think it’s about hating men.

Personally, feminism is important to me because I love women—and not just in the “Boy, boobs sure are great” sense, but in the “I came from a woman, I love a woman and I’m proud of what the women in my life are capable of” kind of way.

That said, respecting and viewing women as true and legitimate equals doesn’t always mean giving up conventionalism. I can think of a million ways to respect and view women as my equals while not sacrificing the cultural norms with which I was raised—you always open a woman’s door, you never let her pay for your company and, above all, you never, ever put your hands on her.

Dating in the modern world is tricky because people are justifiably sensitive and, as a good man, it’s important for you to understand a woman’s perspective. She wants you to see her not as an object or a possession, but as a friend, companion or partner. Offering to pay for her drinks or meals may potentially make her feel like an object, so dialogue is incredibly important.

If you’re out and the date you’re with offers to pay, don’t be offended, and definitely don’t get defensive about it. It’s perfectly acceptable to have reasonable conversation about how you appreciate her offering to pay, but that you simply insist. I’ve never not been able to adequately explain that my insistence on paying has nothing to do with gender superiority, but everything to do with respecting the women who raised me into the man I am.

That said, I think it’s also important to note that I tend to notice when women simply assume I’m going to pay. I know that might sound a tad hypocritical, but social decorum is a lost art, and those subtle behavioral nuances are what string together the fabric of our human interactions. All those tiny details speak loudly to the right audiences, and I tend not to end up with women who live under the supposition that their men are responsible for everything.

Some of you might say that I’m trying to have my cake and eat it, too, but that’s truly not the case. I love a woman who feels comfortable trying to pay for our good time, but I also don’t believe chivalry is dead. The words “gentleman” and “misogynist” aren’t synonyms, and it’s important that we don’t lose sight of that.

Photo: iStock/dolgachov